Manuel Pellegrini has admitted that his Manchester City team had no choice but to switch to defensive tactics during their 1-0 win away at Sunderland.
The Citizens broke the deadlock at the Stadium of Light through Sergio Aguero in the 16th minute, but after that they spent much of the game on the back foot.
"It was a tough game. This is a team who are fighting relegation. They will play every game like a final," the Chilean told BBC Sport.
"It is not our style to play with nine defenders but it was our third game in a week and it was impossible to have a high pace with all our injuries. It was better to defend well and concentrate."
The victory has left City second in the table, three points adrift of leaders Leicester City.